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Home / Articles / Arts / Theater /  ‘In the Heights’ launches San Diego Rep season
. . . .
Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013

‘In the Heights’ launches San Diego Rep season

Musical set in New York City tops our coverage of local plays

By David L. Coddon
theater Jai Rodriguez
- Photo by Daren Scott

For the fourth year in a row, San Diego Repertory Theatre has partnered with the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts on a musical production. In the Heights, which follows Hairspray, The Who’s Tommy and last year’s Zoot Suit, may be the biggest crowd-pleaser in the bunch, and with good reason. Dazzling choreography by Javier Velasco and a robust, streetwise performance by Jai Rodriguez as a Dominican-born bodega owner launch the Rep’s new season with energy and spirit.

Lin-Manuel Miranda conceived and composed the music and lyrics for the Tony Award-winning (in 2008) musical, with a book by Quiara Alegria Hudes. At the Rep, Sam Woodhouse directs a production that includes more than 30 performers on stage and a 20-piece orchestra (musical direction by the SDSCPA’s Andrew Bearden). SDSCPA students appear in the ensemble and the orchestra, and it all adds up to a celebratory evening that literally has cast members dancing in the aisles.

The dancing and the musical numbers that showcase Rodriguez’s superb rapping skills are the chief reasons to celebrate this production. The story, about the changes in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York and the changes within the hearts and minds of that neighborhood’s extended family of friends, relatives and lovers, is a busy one. Moreover, there are some familiar twists and turns: the girl whose parents don’t approve of her boyfriend; the boy who thinks he isn’t good enough for the girl of his dreams; the immigrant son of a farmer pursuing the American Dream of his own business. That we’ve heard some of these stories before doesn’t detract from the likability of In the Heights, which traffics neither in violence nor in moralizing. Besides Rodriguez’s good-hearted Usnavi, we meet and quickly come to care about everyone’s grandma, Abuela Claudia (Susan Denaker); star-crossed lovers Nina (Chelsea Diggs- Smith) and Benny (Desmond Newson); and even the neighborhood hawker of piraguas (a Puerto Rican icy treat), played by Victor Chan.

The set by Sean Fanning is a stunner, and when the action spills into the theater aisles, the effect is transformative. You are there, and you’re glad you are.

In the Heights runs through Aug. 25 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. $18-$43. sdrep.org

Write to davidc@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com.

Opening

Miss Kitty’s Wild West Revue: A saucy, raunchy variety show set in an old-West saloon, presented by an LGBT-centric theater. Runs Aug. 15 through 18 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. diversionary.org 

Side by Side by Sondheim: This revue of songs by the legendary Stephen Sondheim serves as a benefit for Cygnet Theatre. Runs Aug. 19 and 20 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com 

Simply Sci-Fi: An evening of 10-minute plays with a sci-fi tilt, set in a café, served with coffee and dessert. Opens Aug. 15 at The Big Kitchen in South Park. newplaycafe.com

Now Playing

Thoroughly Modern MillieA Kansas girl flees to New York City in the 1920s and foils an export-slavery ring. Presented by Pickwick Players, it runs through Aug. 17 at C3 Performing Arts Center in Grantville. pickwickplayers.net

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The MusicalIt’s Shakespeare’s classic comedy in the forest, but with pop music from the 1960s. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through Aug. 18 at San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas. intrepidshakespeare.com

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!The nationally touring stage version of a 2010 book by comedians Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn about their real-life marriage and family. Through Aug. 18 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. lyceumevents.org

CompanyA musical organized around a series of vignettes that explore the relationships between an unmarried 35-year-old man and his 10 coupled-off friends.Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs though Aug. 25 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com

In the HeightsA musical about working-class folks trying to get ahead in a Dominican-American neighborhood in New York City. Through Aug. 25 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org

SidewaysTwo middle-aged guys, one who’s about to be married, head to Santa Barbara wine country and find trouble. Through Aug. 25 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Double IndemnityIn a theatrical version of the 1943 noir novel and 1944 film, an insurance man falls for a sexy dame who wants her husband dead. Through Sept. 1 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Good, the Bad, and the I-5Legendary sketch-comedy gang Second City stages a show for and about San Diego—plenty of rich material here lately, eh? Through Sept. 1 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Suds: The MusicalThe story of a young woman looking for love in a Laundromat frames a soundtrack of ’60s hits. Through Sept. 1 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org

The 39 StepsA comedic, four-actor stage version of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, as if performed by Monty Python, with lots of allusions to other Hitchcock classics. Through Sept. 22 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are DeadTom Stoppard’s existentialist play turns two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet into lead characters. Through Sept. 26 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Merchant of VeniceShakespeare’s play,about a man who borrows money to court a woman,gave us the terms “shylock” and “a pound of flesh.” Through Sept. 28 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

A Midsummer Night’s DreamA Greek forest is alive with fairies, magic potions and the pursuit of love in the opener of The Old Globe’s summer Shakespeare Festival. Through Sept. 29 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

miXtape Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb’s Players Theatre, it runs through Sept. 29 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org

Crime Pays A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net

The 39 Steps: A comedic, four-actor stage version of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, as if performed by Monty Python, with lots of allusions to other Hitchcock classics. Opens Aug. 9 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org

Macbeth & The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Local teens perform one-hour versions of the two Shakespeare plays. Happens on Monday, Aug. 12, at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Spaceman of Ocean Beach: A staged reading of a play by Rick Bollinger about an eccentric character, Clint Cary, who made Ocean Beach his home from the 1960s until his death in 1993. Runs Aug. 9 and 10 at the Ocean Beach Playhouse. facebook.com/spacemanofoceanbeach

Thoroughly Modern Millie: A Kansas girl flees to New York City in the 1920s and foils an export-slavery ring. Presented by Pickwick Players, it runs Aug. 9 through 17 at C3 Performing Arts Center in Grantville. pickwickplayers.net

It’s Just Sex: Three couples get together for some drinks, and, wouldn’t you know it, the inevitable spouse swapping ensues. Through Aug. 10 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.org

The Wizard of Oz: A Kansas girl’s blunt-force head trauma sends her to a colorful land where men are made of straw and tin, lions dance and monkeys fly. Through Aug. 10 at Moonlight Amphitheatre in Visa. moonlightstage.com

Freedom of Speech: Eliza Jane Schneider plays 34 characters in her own one-woman show, which chronicles her travels around the United States in an old ambulance. Presented by Moxie Theatre, it runs through Aug. 11 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. moxietheatre.com

The Rainmaker: A conman arrives at a Depression-era ranch where the cattle are dying and the farmer’s daughter’s hopes of finding a husband are fading. Through Aug. 11 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The Musical: It’s Shakespeare’s classic comedy in the forest, but with pop music from the 1960s. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through Aug. 18 at San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Centre in Encinitas. intrepidshakespeare.com

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!: The nationally touring stage version of a 2010 book by comedians Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn about their real-life marriage and family. Through Aug. 18 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. lyceumevents.org

Company: A musical organized around a series of vignettes that explore the relationships between an unmarried 35-year-old man and his 10 coupled-off friends. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs though Aug. 25 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com

In the Heights: A musical about working-class folks trying to get ahead in a Dominican-American neighborhood in New York City. Through Aug. 25 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org

Sideways: Two middle-aged guys, one who’s about to be married, head to Santa Barbara wine country and find trouble. Through Aug. 25 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Double Indemnity: In a theatrical version of the 1943 noir novel and 1944 film, an insurance man falls for a sexy dame who wants her husband dead. Through Sept. 1 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Good, the Bad, and the I-5: Legendary sketch-comedy gang Second City stages a show for and about San Diego—plenty of rich material here lately, eh? Through Sept. 1 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Suds: The Musical: The story of a young woman looking for love in a Laundromat frames a soundtrack of ’60s hits. Through Sept. 1 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: Tom Stoppard’s existentialist play turns two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet into lead characters. Through Sept. 26 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

The Merchant of Venice: Shakespeare’s play, about a man who borrows money to court a woman, gave us the terms “shylock” and “a pound of flesh.” Through Sept. 28 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Greek forest is alive with fairies, magic potions and the pursuit of love in the opener of The Old Globe’s summer Shakespeare Festival. Through Sept. 29 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org

miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb’s Players Theatre, it runs through Sept. 29 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org

Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net





 
 
 
 
 
 
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